Leading up to the Friday, September 30 CMU Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, members of the Class of 2011 will be periodically featured with an article on cmuchippewas.com. Each article will be written by Hall of Fame committee member and former CMU Sports Information Director Don Helinski.
After battling nagging injuries the first two years of his career, hurdler Greg Richardson was finally fully healthy for the 1999 Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships.
With the league meet at CMU's new track facility, the home crowd would get to see history.
In a stacked field featuring three All-Americans, Richardson captured the 110m hurdles title with a MAC Championships record time of 13.60.
"I was in the starting area right before the race and when I looked into his eyes, I knew he was ready for something special," former Chippewa track and field coach Jim Knapp said. "He was healthy for the first time in his CMU career and he blew away one of the longest standing conference championships records. He had a will to succeed and he wanted it so bad.
"Every time I think of Greg Richardson I think of intensity. He was the mentally toughest competitor I've coached. He just willed himself to so many successes."
Two weeks later at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Boise State, Richardson set the overall MAC record clocking a 13.59 to finish third and earn All-America honors. The event champion was Terrence Trammell, who would go on to win silver medals in the event at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
A year later and once again slowed by injuries, Richardson earned All-America honors again, this time at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a seventh-place finish in the 60m hurdles.
"He qualified for indoor nationals as an at-large selection that year; he hadn't hit the qualifying mark," Knapp said, "but he finished seventh on pure will.
"The hurdles are a mental event. It is one thing to run for 110m, but when you put barriers on a track it changes things. It's a challenge that some relish but others are not tough enough. He loved that challenge."
Richardson still holds the CMU records in both the 60m hurdles (7.76) and 110m hurdles (13.59). His lone MAC title came in 1999 and three times he was runner-up in a photo finish at the league meet, with another two third-place efforts.
After his collegiate career was over, he continued to train while competing in Europe and at the USA Track and Field Championships. He would go on to post a personal best of 13.32.
"That's a world-class time," Knapp said. "While he was at CMU, Greg was always wanting to help the team and compete in different events to get points. But once he concentrated on just the hurdles, he was able to really excel."
Knapp was fortunate he signed Richardson at CMU when he did. The Chippewa head coach inked the high school state champion before he finished second at USATF's Junior Nationals, once again behind Trammell.
"I'm glad we got him when we did because a lot of schools were on to him after that," Knapp said. "We worked hard to get him to come to CMU. His sister, Gernett'e, was a hurdler at CMU and she was instrumental in the process. We were fortunate that he was coming around at a time when we had guys like Courtland Pitt (three-time MAC champion and MAC meet Most Outstanding Performer) and Al Washington (four-time MAC champion). In fact, all of the MAC's indoor and outdoor record holders in the hurdles were CMU athletes, so he saw you could be successful here."
For his efforts on the track, Richardson is being inducted into the CMU Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 30, in a ceremony at the CMU Events Center/McGuirk Arena. The event is free and open to the public beginning at 7 p.m.
The induction class also will be recognized at halftime of the CMU-Northern Illinois football game on Saturday, Oct. 1.
Joining Richardson in the CMU Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2011 are Reggie Allen (football; 1995-98), Eli (Barnes) Beshear (softball; 1996-99); Nicole Bills (gymnastics; 1997-2000), Chris (Cooper) Gaudard (women's track and field/cross country; 1985-89), John Rollins (wrestling; 1958-61), and the 1976 Chippewa field hockey team coached by Mary Bottaro.